A judge in Philadelphia on Tuesday dismissed multiple criminal charges, including murder, against a former officer who fatally shot a 27-year-old man, Eddie Irizarry, in August.
District Attorney Larry Krasner charged Mark Dial ― who was a Philadelphia police officer at the time of the shooting but has since been fired ― with murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault and several other counts earlier this month. But Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Wendy Pew dismissed the charges during a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
"He was firing while trying to take cover," Dial's defense attorney, Brian McMonagle, said of his client in court, while arguing that Krasner's office should never have filed the charges.
"I agree with you 100%," Pew said as she threw the case out.
Police Initially Claimed Irizarry Lunged at Dial with Knife but Bodycam Footage Told a Different Story
Two days after the 14 August shooting, police said in a statement on the shooting that Irizarry had lunged at police from outside his vehicle while holding a knife. However, body camera footage released by Philadelphia prosecutors earlier this month clearly showed Irizarry sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle when the officer opened fire.
Irizarry had parked his Toyota Corolla on a road in Kensington, a neighbourhood of Philadelphia, after police said they stopped him for turning on the street in the wrong direction. It was midday.
Dial is seen exiting the police cruiser before shouting at Irizarry to "show your hands" and adding "I will F-ing shoot you." He then fires multiple shots at Irizarry as he sat in the driver's seat.
After the shots were fired, you can hear Dial's partner saying "Mark, hold on. Mark, stop." Bodycam footage shows Dial holding a gun at Irizarry as he lay still in the driver's seat. The partner tells Dial to move the police vehicle.
Then the video shows the officers pulling a bloody Irizarry out of the Toyota and loading him into the backseat of a marked police vehicle. Dial then gets in and drives away to a hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.
Dial Claimed He Acted in Self-Defense
Dial's defense team argued that he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors, however, argued that murder charges were appropriate since Dial approached the traffic stop with his weapon already drawn.
Dial's partner, Michael Morris, said in court Tuesday that he shouted "Knife" when they approached Irizarry's car. Footage also shows Morris yelling "Gun," although no firearm was recovered from the scene. Morris argued in court that Irizarry's knife could have looked like a gun.
Following the shooting, Dial was placed on a 30-day suspension by Philadelphia police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who announced her resignation earlier this month. Dial, who had been with the department for five years, was fired on Sept. 18, according to police.
District Attorney's Office Releases Statement on Dismissal of Charges Against Dial
"The District Attorney's Office disagrees with the decision by Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew to dismiss all criminal charges against defendant Mark Dial for the killing of Eddie Irizarry on August 14, 2023," Krasner said Tuesday in a statement.
"Special Investigations Unit prosecutors will be filing an appeal of this decision to the Court of Common Pleas by the end of today," Krasner said. "In keeping with our oath to seek justice, we will move to have all criminal charges, including Murder, reinstated against this defendant."